I discovered a bag of blueberries picked a few weeks ago in the fridge this morning. Rather than throw them away, we decided to do a little wildcrafting and cook up a batch of blueberry dye.
a bag of ripe or overripe blueberries
two large pots
a yard or so of cotton fabric
how to do it
To make the dye solution, gather your blueberries and put them in a large pot. Add double the amount of water to the berries. Bring your berry and water mix to a boil, then simmer for about an hour.
As the water simmers, you can prepare your fabric to absorb the dye. Soaking the fabric in a color fixative will make the color set in the fabric. For berry dyes, a salt fixative does the trick. Mix 1/3 cup salt to 8 cups of cold water. Then add your fabric to the fixative and simmer for an hour. You should have two pots on the stove happily simmering.
By order of operations, your dye mix should finish simmering first. Remove the pot from the heat and strain the dye mix using a colander. Set aside the pot with the strained dye mixture.
Now check on your salt fixative. Remove the fabric and fixative mix from the stove. Rinse the material and squeeze out excess mixture. Rinse the fabric in cool water until water runs clear.
Finally, everything comes together with the dye bath. Place the wet fabric in the pot with your berry dye. We decided to tie-dye our antique tablecloth, so we tied it with rubber bands before putting it in the pot. Simmer the fabric in the dye mix until you get the desired shade of color. We err on the darker side, since fabric color lightens when it dries.
For a stronger shade, remove your pot from the stove and allow the fabric to soak in the dye overnight. To preserve the color of your fabric, wash it separately in cold water. And to see how our tablecloth turned out, check back tomorrow because we're going for the all-nighter...